The business of hiking all boils down to the amount of effort you devote to planning it. Here are a few considerations you need to factor in when mapping out your upcoming hiking trip.
Most people have acquired the necessary skills and foresight to plan out hikes. It takes willpower and commitment to make smart choices for a group of people who most likely have different personalities and tastes. But for many others, sorting out trip details like where and when to go, what to pack, and how to get there can be downright overwhelming.
If you are part of the latter group, you’ll need this guide to get started on building up your knowledge about hiking and getting a sense of what it takes to take the lead. The proven way to make outings enjoyable and meaningful is always to plan ahead.
If it’s your first time to try, you need to carve out at least a month or two for planning just to be on the safe side. You’ll find that hiking, more or less, also follows the 80-20 rule: 80% execution and 20% preparation.
Beat the weather with proper clothing
There’s no other time to enjoy hiking in nature than during summer. And the earlier you start the hike, the better time you make in arriving at the campsite.
But outdoor weather does have the tendency to be temperamental, especially in highly elevated areas. Skies can change from sunny to cloudy to windy to rainy all in a matter of seconds. It can be unpredictable even during the hottest time of the year. With this in mind, you need to be prepared for changes. You need to determine the proper clothing for the trail.
Weeks before your scheduled hike, get in touch with a local guide of where you’re headed and pick his or hair brains on how drastic the weather can change in your chosen trail. This will give a head start on what works best in the area.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to wear layers that you can easily take off as you walk the path and not stick to your skin. If the weather forecast says sunny all day, choose a quick-drying base layer that will not cause chaffing. Top it off with your basic Merino wool shirt. It’s one of the most reliable shirts you can own as a hiker because it stays warm and breathable even when you sweat. Also, even if it suddenly rains, you’ll still be fine. If it does get too hot, you can take it off and tie it around your backpack as you walk. It will dry off quickly, and you can wear it again if it gets chilly or windy. Whatever you do, always avoid wearing cotton outdoors.
As you are leading the pack, share these clothing tips, and encourage your group to adapt to the two-layered approach. You’ll also be needing reliable beanie hats (check out these cool ones), or any type of hats that stays on your head even when it gets windy and holds your hair in place, so it doesn’t block your vision.
Navigating the trail
Hiking requires a good deal of problem-solving: before, during, and after the trip. You’ll learn more about yourself and your group as you rough it out together in the outdoors. While you’re on the before phase, secure maps of your planned destination ahead of time and share them with your companions. Determine the stop points you’ll be making and get the consensus of the group. It will help them visualize the points better if you indicate the same on the shared maps.
Also, try to identify the uphill and downhill slopes of the trail. Doing this will help you set the pace when you’re en route with your crew and set enough time for resting in between.
You also need to know the kind of surface you’ll be walking into. Do your research and find out which part is dry and which part is wet. Knowing these details will help you determine the kind of shoes you and your group need to wear during the hike.
Putting on hiking boots is the safest choice for any kind of trail. But you do need time to break them in—make sure you do this weeks before the hike to avoid getting blisters. Gym shoes are okay on some trails, but they usually are not recommended. It’s because trainers don’t have enough grip on them to stabilize your feet on soft grounds or loose soil. The best bet for beginner hikers is trail shoes. It doesn’t take that long to break into them, unlike hiking shoes. They are light and comfortable enough to wear when you’re not on hiking grounds.
Be wary of possible dangers
Getting injured or lost in the middle of a trek are some of the uncomfortable deterrents of hiking. It’s essential to be aware of the dangers that come with being outdoors so that you can have the right mindset to address them.
It’s impossible to prepare for every kind of risks, but it is possible to lay the necessary foundation of safety. Before embarking on your journey, share the details of the trip to families or friends. Encourage the same to your group. Essential information like where you’re going, how long you’ll be staying there, and when are you expected to come home. Even if you’re just going out for a day trip, always be on the safe side and carry your emergency kits with you at all times.
Walkie talkies or satellite phones are your most significant and most reliable buddies out in the wild. Smoke flares, first-aid, and medicine kits should also be constant on your packing list on the top of your hydration and fuel list. Most importantly, know where the nearest ranger station or the place where you can ask for help. Having a be-safe-now mindset than be-sorry-later will save you from a whole lot of trouble. Hurdles are always present in every new endeavor, but being aware of what you’re getting yourself into and preparing as much as you can for eventualities will help ensure a safe and satisfying hiking trip.